3-Step Process To Improve Retention
In addition to many specific drill sets designed to help train and condition one’s ability to recall, here is a rather straightforward 3-step methodology one can apply to almost any type of reading material.
Step One: Preview
What this step entails is to read the first and last paragraphs of an article, section, chapter, or segment of reading material. The main concept here is to get to the main ideas straight away. If we can assume that the most important general ideas are introduced in the first paragraph and then summed up or concluded upon in the final paragraph, then we should read these first. At this point, take some notes if necessary. Skipping ahead to the end, though considered out of order or contrary to what we are used to, helps us get to the author’s intentions faster. The key at this step is to get as much as the major information within the shortest amount of time.
Step Two: Overview
If we envision the first and last paragraphs as the terminal beginning and end points to a specific section of reading material, then the Overview can be looked upon as the framework.
For this step, we will read the first sentence of each paragraph in the section, chapter, or segment of reading material we have selected over the course of that entire section including again the first and last paragraph sentences. After this has been completed, take some notes. Make two passes through what we have deemed the most important paragraphs, and then read the first sentences of each remaining paragraph. Just like the first and last paragraphs in the Preview, within the context of an individual paragraph, the first sentence usually sets the tone and articulates the main idea for the sentences to follow. Therefore, reading all of these helps us garner even more of the main ideas and author’s intent. With having read all of this thus far in a rather short amount of time, we are now primed to take in the rest of the material.
Step Three: Read
Now we finally get to read! Think of the last two steps as two successive micro investments of one’s time to garner as many as the main ideas as possible. With the knowledge and main points gained from the last two steps still fresh in one’s mind, reading through the entirety of the article will not only flow faster, but one can now be more receptive to the details. Proceed through the article with the finger technique (see: “The Simplest Way To Read Faster”) and notice how, as you proceed through the reading, the details that support the main ideas you already know will almost “stick” or jump out at you.
Apply these three simple steps to all your reading, and with a bit of practice, marvel at how much you will be able to retain and recall in such a short amount of time.
Paul is the founder of Iris Reading, the largest provider of speed-reading and memory courses. His workshops have been taught to thousands of students and professionals worldwide at institutions that include: NASA, Google, HSBC and many Fortune 500 companies.